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Posted on Feb 04, 10:55PM | IBNS
By Nilanjan Datta, Kochi, Feb 4 : An outsider till the other day, Arata Izumi is presently an integral part of the Indian Senior National squad.
From the moment he stepped into the National Camp in Kochi, he was welcomed with open arms by his "colleagues," a gesture which he admits has made him "very comfortable indeed."
In a freewheeling chat to www.the-aiff.com, Arata spoke at length about his new "responsibility," his "new Home," the significance of the call-up, the National squad and much more.
Q: What was the reaction when you stepped into the National Camp?
A: I was given a warm welcome by all. 'Welcome to the Team, Brother,' was the general sentiment. I know everyone and have been fortunate to play with some of them in various club teams. But the National squad is something different. Right now, they are my colleagues and have made me very comfortable indeed. I thank them for that.
And it's not just the players. I need to thank Coach and other members of the support staff for their cooperation. This is my new Home.
Q: How is the National Team different from a club team?
A: Very different! It's all about the atmosphere. In a club, you will find that sometimes there isn't much communication, for example, between 19-year olds and foreign recruits and maybe, even star players. It happens all over the World.
But the National squad is where you play for a different cause. It comprises of mature footballers and the focus is something else.
Q: Can you elaborate?
A: It's about the responsibility and professionalism and environment. You need to spread the right kind of message as you are representing the Nation. While in a club, the allegiance of every fan stays different.
But they all look up to you when you wear the National logo. When you win or lose, the entire country shares your emotions which is not the case in a club as you may always have a fan having a different emotion than you even if you win or lose, simply because he supports another club.
Q: What was your experience in the first day of practice?
A: We have a recovery session as we had played the earlier day. Later, we had an interaction with local blind footballers and it was an entirely different experience. It was heartening to know they knew the names of everyone. We mingled with them and even played blindfolded. Reaching out to all stays the aim and we spread the right kind of message. There are additional duties off the pitch too. That's why the National Team is something which all players stay desperate to play for.